Flying is stressful...Super stressful...Getting to the airport hours in advance, making sure your baggage is the proper weight, the chaos of long security lines... ugh, so incredibly stressful...
Factoring a toddler into the mix is enough to make a poor Mama's head explode.
We just recently took a trip to North Carolina to visit my in-laws. It was Olivia's first time on an airplane, and I was TERRIFIED. We've all heard horror stories, or been on a flight with an unruly kiddo, and I was so afraid of being "that Mom" with "that kid". Ugh, why do I care so much about what other people think?!?
Olivia is a good kiddo, don't get me wrong, but she does have her moments. I really wasn't sure how she'd handle being stuck in a confined space for an extended period of time.
So, I worried... I worried for weeks... I stalked the internet for tips and tricks. I asked every parent that I knew for advice. If it was one thing I was going to be, I was going to be prepared...
After a semi successful flight there, and a near perfect flight home, here are my top 5 tips for flying with a toddler:
1. BRING ALL THE SNACKS
I'm gonna be honest and lay it all out there... I am not above bribing my child. I'm really not.. If giving her a special treat will spare me from having a nervous breakdown, I am 100% for it. I brought a magical bag filled with Gold Fish crackers, Graham Crackers, Ring Pops, Smarties... You name it, this Mama had it. I was basically the Mary Poppins of airplane travel. While I did bring enough candy for a family of 5, I also brought along some of Olivia's favorite healthy snacks, like apples and bananas. I wanted to be prepared with anything that I could use to occupy my kiddo. She can't cry and scream if her mouth is full...
2. Bring at least 2 to 3 activities (more depending on the length of the flight)
I knew that keeping Olivia busy was the key to a successful flight. This was the perfect occasion to bring out the obnoxious Christmas gift we bought Olivia when she was 9 months old... Her tablet... I downloaded all of her favorite shows and movies for her to watch during the flight. I also brought a few different coloring and activity books. Luckily our flight was only an hour and a half, or I probably would have planned for a few more activities. The main point here is to make sure you've got options. Kids are fickle. Having choices helps to ensure at least one of the activities will appeal to them!
3. Have a plan
Taking a toddler on an airplane is not something that you can just wing. Please, for the love of God, come up with some sort of plan. It doesn't have to be anything major, just enough of a plan to cover your bases, so you're not stressed out later. TRUST ME, you'll thank yourself later if you plan ahead!
4. Utilize the flight staff
On our flight to North Carolina, Olivia got a little crabby towards the end of the flight. I started to panic when she began getting loud and flailing around in her seat. I started sweating profusely, while trying to quiet my kiddo. In my head I thought, "This is it. This is when it all goes horribly wrong.". In that moment of fear, an angel came to our rescue! One of the flight attendants realized that Olivia was getting restless, and came to ask if she could walk Olivia to the back of the plane to grab a kids activity set. I could have cried, I was so relieved that this beautiful soul saw me struggling and jumped in to help! For a split second I was embarrassed. I almost told the flight attendant that we were fine, but then something in me clicked. Why should I turn away someone who is trying to help me reel in my agitated kiddo? I embraced the situation, and Olivia walked happily to the back of the plane with the flight attendant. I took the moment of relief to gather myself and get my head refocused on surviving the flight.
5. Remain calm
This is the MOST IMPORTANT tip I have for you. REMAIN CALM AT ALL COSTS. Not only will getting anxious be painful for you, but your kiddo senses your emotions. If you're not okay, your kiddo won't be okay. Olivia feeds off of my energy. I know that remaining calm can be hard in stressful situations, but it will ultimately make your life so much easier if you do. Keep calm and carry on Mama. You got this.
Trips with toddlers can be tricky, but the more you plan and prepare, the better off you'll be. Just keep in mind that even if your travel goes awry, none of it matters once you reach your destination.